Add Wyeth ( WYE) to the growing list of Big Pharma companies making a lot of deals in a short amount of time. In the last nine days, Wyeth has signed licensing and collaboration agreements with three small biotech companies.
Although the arrangements aren't gigantic like the GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK) deal with Genmab last month or the Roche pact with InterMune ( ITMN) in October, they further highlight large drugmakers' interest in looking outside for research prospects. Wyeth signed an agreement on Jan. 4 with Pharmacopeia ( PCOP) to develop products based on the Princeton, N.J., biotech company's research into the body's immune system. Pharmacopeia says its research could lead to treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Pharmacopeia, which has no commercial products, has signed contracts to work with several other big companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) and Schering-Plough ( SGP). Most of Pharmacopeia's compounds haven't been tested on humans yet. Several drugs are in the first of three stages of clinical testing. The Wyeth deal could provide Pharmacopeia with up to $175 million in milestone payments, as well as sales-based royalties on any products from the collaboration. Pharmacopeia got $5 million upfront and could receive as much as $9 million in R&D funding from Wyeth over the next three years. Wyeth has a strong foundation for treating rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis with Enbrel. Even as the ink was still drying on that arrangement, Wyeth agreed to join forces with Raven Biotechnologies, a private company in South San Francisco, Calif., that specializes in developing monoclonal antibodies. These genetically engineered versions of human antibodies help the body fight disease by creating a defense mechanism targeted against a specific invader.
Wyeth will use certain Raven antibodies designed to combat cancer. Terms of the agreement, which includes an upfront payment, milestone payments and royalties on sales of commercialized products, weren't disclosed. Wrapping up its deal-making blitz, Wyeth on Jan. 8 signed two research agreements with Catalyst Biosciences, another private company based in South San Francisco, Calif. Wyeth will work with Catalyst to develop treatments for cancer and metabolic diseases. Catalyst could receive as much as $100 million, excluding royalties based on product sales.